Until the Fearless Come at Grogmeetish 2020

Grogmeetish 2020 was the Grognard Files podcast’s virtual convention which was held online this Saturday just gone. Normally it is held in Manchester at Fanboy Three.  Upfront I’d like to thank Chris Hart (aka Dirk the Dice) for organising the event.

Due to family commitments, I could only put forward one game, so I decided to run the final part of my Swords and Sorcery/Barbarian bloodfest set in the frozen Savage North, Until the Fearless Come. Previous adventures also played out online, have told the tale of the downfall of Mad King Morgus the Drooler, and the succession of his wife Queen Haldra to the throne of Sonderland. In this, the last part of the trilogy, entitled Rites of Passage, that will be published in upcoming Saga of the Savage North setting and adventure book next year, Queen Haldra has received word that her ex-husband has fled across the frozen sea to the Kingdom of Foundhaven. Seeking to end disputes to her rule, she summons the player characters, a motley crew of Barbarian Warriors, to her court and gives them the task of bringing Morgus home, dead or alive.

The characters have to travel to Foundhaven across the icy Dragon Sea from Sonderland, so the first part is messing about in a big longship. Foundhaven is a land of people who fled their old monster-infested homeland hundreds of years ago, settled in a new wildland and lived in dread of the monsters catching up with them.  Without giving much away their doom has caught up with them and the player characters quickly get involved in a monster hunt shortly after stepping off the boat.

Until the Fearless Comes continues a couple of themes that previous adventures have kept to.

  1. It’s the Journey, not the Dungeon that is interesting.
  2. The movers and shakers are present and given stats.
  3. It used the One-Magic system.

Okay, let’s go into each point in more detail.

1 While there are mini-dungeons or dungeon-like environment, they are quick three or four encounter location affairs. I’ve no interest of making Savage North sinister sorcerers, crafty rogues or mighty thewed barbarians, crawl along corridors and deal with minor encounters that are beneath them. Instead, they are travelling the length and breadth of the land going to the interesting places that I’ve previously only mentioned in the setting’s gazetteer, meeting interesting people. Talking of which…

2. I’ve long been bothered by the trend in D100 books where there the big power players of the setting are described in a pen picture, but given no stats. I get it. There’s an expectation that the players will never go toe to toe with such characters and that it’s a lot of work detailing such high-level characters in game terms. So why bother. OpenQuest being more straightforward has less of a stat block (or profile as I’m calling it), and the Savage North is full of tales where some King or powerful hero met their demise at the hands of a wandering warrior. Swords and Sorcery literature is full of examples where the main protagonist comes up against the movers and shakers of the setting.

3. The One Magic system, which will appear in the OpenQuest Companion, was used for the previous games and worked wonderfully as a quick, no-nonsense magic system that new players, as well as seasoned players, can pick up and run with. It also works well with larger-than life world of Swords and Sorcery.

The game was Mega Gaming Fun, with OpenQuest’s fast-moving straightforward system supporting the fast-paced free-wheeling Barbarian action. Monsters were discovered and slain, and vengeance was had, but whether the Queendom was saved is questionable (and outside the confines of a 3 1/2 hour convention scenario).

Art by Jonny Gray

This post is part of D101’s Dark November promotion. Follow @d101games on Twitter, where I’ll be holding prize draws and announcing flash sales.

 

 

 

Last miniute Tweeking

So the pdf of the 1st Draft is compiled and about to go out to backers, a little later than expected. That’s because as well as doing one last self-edit, I took it as an opportunity to make some last-minute changes.

What’s changed

  • Hero points are now called Fortune.
  • Improvement points are now Growth (points)
  • Improving Characters now Growing Characters and re-written and expanded.
  • Battle Magic renamed Personal Magic

All the Paths of Magic have an Immortality End Game

  • Personal Magic: Shamans become Great Spirits and move into the Spirit World. Wises become One with the Land.
  • Divine Magic: Priests and Holy Warriors, Ascend into the Houses of Holy either as Ascended Guardians, who become part of the Pantheon that they worship or as an independent deity.
  • Sorcery: The Magus Transcends the very limits of mortality through their knowledge of the Laws of Magic, becoming beings of pure magical energy.

New Logo

One of the first set of stretch goals (1-3) was an improvement of the graphic design of the main rulebook.

Part of that money has been spent on this logo, which John Ossoway designed for me some time ago and has been left unused UNTIL NOW.

So here’s OQ’s new logo which will grace not just the main rulebook but all the books of the game line 🙂

OpenQuest Logo by John Ossosway

OpenQuest 3rd Edition has Funded!

Well, the Kickstarter ended just after breakfast this morning, and 545 backers have funded all 12 stretch goals. Maximum thanks to all the backers 🙂

This is what the campaign has achieved:

  • Stretch goals 1-3 More art and enhanced graphic design for the main rulebook.
  • Stretch Goal 4 The Whispering Warrior Quickstart Rules/Adventure
  • Stretch Goal 5 An OpenQuest OGL SRD that will be hosted here.
  • Stretch Goal 6 The Saga of the Savage North, an adventure/setting book.
  • Stretch Goal 7 The Clockwork Palace, an adventure/setting book.
  • Stretch Goal 8 The OpenQuest Companion, a compendium of alternate rules and guidance.
  • Stretch Goal 9 OpenQuest Dungeons, a collection of adventures, with a mini-setting, and rules guidance.
  • Stretch Goal 10 Support for a Virtual Table Top
  • Stretch Goal 11 The Four Emperors Preview Adventure.
  • Stretch Goal 12  OpenQuest Patrons choose OpenQuest Next (the next OQ powered project) everyone gets 1st draft in pdf.
  • As a thank you to the generosity of the backers and the Master of Ducks (a unique special high tier reward that has been claimed), The Book of Ducks (Working Title), a culture book including character options, culture details, a mini-setting and an adventure.
  • There is a new reward for OQ Patrons and add-on for all other backers, called The Book of Patrons (a working title)  a collection of 25 NPC + rules for patronage.

The main rulebook is due to be released early in 2021, with the rest of the stretch goals being delivered throughout 2021.

Follow this blog for progress on the main OpenQuest Rulebook (which is phase 1) and delivery of the various stretch goals (phase 2).

Ducks, why?

Detail from OpenQuest cover by Jon Hodgson

OpenQuest has a long tradition of including rules for Ducks as a playable non-human race/culture.

Why?

They have a firm place in popular culture, courtesy of the animated adventures of Donald and chums.

Yet they are a blank canvas. Unlike other fantasy non-humans, there’s not an established canon of history in either fantasy or folklore.

Twagedy and Triumph. Their short stature odd appearance and argumentative nature may make them an obvious figure of fun, But dig deeper into the detail of their lives, and you will see the struggle of their underdog lives, and take pride in their achievements against the odds.

A fan favourite, all of the above have inspired some truly great fan work over the years, as people have taken Ducks to their hearts and made them their own.

As a replacement for Halflings, I’ll leave that there and say no more 🙂

And yes it is a bit silly and lighthearted, but you have to have those moments in a game. Especially a game that can often have monster hunting and investigation of the terrible acts of dark cults as its focus.

OpenQuest 2nd to 3rd edition Change Log

So what’s changed in OpenQuest 3rd edition?

Here’s the definitive change log at present – bearing in mind there may be tweaks during the editorial process.

Introduction

Text updated to reflect changes in the new edition.

Characters

Ready-Made Concepts made more robust and more pick up and play.

Improving Characters moved into this chapter and additional sections added to deal with characters changing magical path (e.g. From Battle Magic to Sorcery) and unlearning spells so they can learn other spells.

Skills

Lots of nips and tucks to make this fundamental chapter clearer and more accessible to a newcomer.

Skills no longer exceed 100%, even when they are modified. What this means in terms of Skills Masters (skill at 100%) is explained. All the rules for what happens if the skill goes over 100% (multiple attacks against multiple opponents, etc.) removed.

A step by step list of the procedure for a Basic Skill test is now given in this chapter for ease of reference.

Criticals and Fumbles now occur when doubles are rolled, eg. Skill is 52%, so a roll of 33 is a critical and a roll of 66% is a fumble.

Failing Forward as a game concept explained specifically for OpenQuest.

Equipment

Unchanged.

Combat

Overall, the chapter that has seen the most reorganisation, additions, and changes. The page count has risen from 11 to 21 pages (without art). It now shows how verbal skills and magic works alongside physical combat, as well as being approaches in themselves.

Social Combat

Fast talk – the art of quickly getting your way with individuals or small groups with a leader (who you target).

Oration – how you sway crowds to your point of view.

Intimidation. Moved outside physical combat, where it will still get used to get foes to surrender/run away,

Also, there’s a section for Prolonged Social Combats, which details how you do social combats like an election campaign, or as the example given convincing your sweetheart’s family that you are suitable marriage material, that takes place over time and may involve not just social combats but physical and magical ones as well.

Physical Combat

Physical is still as deadly if things go wrong for the character.

The big change here is that combat order (and any time where who goes first is important) is determined by modified skill, highest to lowest.

Rules for Surprise attacks, Ambushes, sneaking upon and rushing foes are given.

Damage. Major Wounds system removed. I found in play players would spend Hero Points to avoid them.

Zero Hit Points. Is the character dead at zero hit points? Rather than yes, there’s now a table you roll on with a D10 + any excess damage after the character has been reduced to zero hp, which has a range of results from, knocked out and back after 1d6 minutes with 1 HP to body destroyed. Also, wounds that are killing wounds are now called mortal wounds which is important in terms of healing.

Magical Combat

This section highlights which magic spells are used to enhance characters attacks or are attacks in themselves. Also covers Spirt combat, which moves here from the Battle Magic chapter.

The Quest

This chapter retains the examples of how adventures are structured, for both players and Referees, as well as spot rules. Large chunks of the 2nd Edition version of this chapter, previously called The Quest and Afterwards, has been moved to the new Referee’s Guidance chapter (see below). In contrast, the Improving Characters section has been moved to Characters in its entirety.

Introduction to Magic

This chapter that exists in the 2nd edition has been removed

Battle Magic

Good half a dozen spells removed.  About three overly powerful spells moved to Divine Magic. Addition of the Wise as a specialist Battle Magic caster.

Divine Magic

Cleaned up a little bit, but largely unchanged. Added some spells from Battle Magic that were overpowered there. Removed the Generic Deities list, since I feel it needs a bit more work on it (detailing example Holy Warriors for each deity for example) in its current form.

Sorcery

Specific abilities and benefits for the three ranks of Sorcery have been added. Apprentices get Mystic Vision as a free spell and a Sorcerer’s want that focuses (+20% casting bonus) a spell or two. Adepts get a Sorcerer’s Stone which can store magic points, they can create a Sorcerer’s Staff (a more powerful variant of the Wand), can create Familiars and can teach and create Apprentices. Finally, Magus’s through their mastery of the laws of Sorcery, can become immortal turning their physical body into one of pure magical energy, through the process known as Ascension.

Plunder

Unchanged.

Creatures

New section to lead Referees through the creation of new creatures.

New section to lead Referees through the creation of detialed npcs using the base creature profile as a starting point.

Creatures listed by type/magic world that they come from rather than a-z.

For sentient creatures example lists of magic spells given, to make them more pick up and play.

REINSTATED The Empire of Gatan

This was taken out of OQ Refreshed. So has been reinstated with a bit of rewriting and with the extra bits I put into an unpublished version that was pulled due to space reasons.

REINSTATED The Road Less Travelled

This was taken out of OQ Refreshed. Reinstated and updated to fill some holes in the narrative that I missed previously. Also, this version has removed the Goblins as the monsters in the mini-dungeon at the end of the adventure, replacing them with human cultists of the Burning Heart Horde.

NEW! Referee’s Guidance

Whole chunks that are currently in the Quest and Afterwards, WAR! Realm Quests etc. can quickly make Ref advice chapter, with a few other small bits from me about how OQ works.

OpenQuest 3rd OGL SRD will be hosted here

I’m going to double post the update which I’m posting over on the Kickstarter, since its just funded the Online version of the OQ3 SRD.

So Stretch Goal 5 OGL SRD Website funded yesterday.

This goal was quite a big one, so what does this entail and why is it important?

The OpenQuest System Resource Document will contain all the Open Gaming Content (OGC) contained in the game. Unlike previous editions of OQ where I made the entire text of the book OGC, this time out it will be the game without all the flavour text, examples,  with the example setting and any references to it removed, and not have the adventure included. In the ten-plus years, I’ve been working on OQ, I’ve learnt a lot more about how the OGL works and this to my mind is the best way of delivering it.

Here’s a quick version of the preview chapters, with the content that will be OGC highlighted in yellow.

The OQ SRD, will work out about 100 pages possibly less and be in a nice concise shape to create an online version of it that you can use as an online reference during play, and 3rd part developers can use to create adventures, supplements and spin-off games.

Having a website to support it means I can put up frequently asked questions for developers, and post updates to the rules. It also gives me a focus and a reason to connect with other developers, existing and potential.

Last time I did this properly was during the OpenQuest 2 years (2010-2015) and as a result not only did we see our spin-off games emerge (The Company and the River of Heaven) but also some great games from Cake Bread and Walton (Clockwork & Chivalry, Dark Streets, Pirates & Dragons) and Crooked Staff’s Age of Shadows. There’s also a great French translation by the folk over at d100.fr